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Self-Care for a New Year: Your Vibrant Body

“Our body creates our soul as much as our soul creates our body.”

– David Spangler

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

— Jim Rohn

Happy Beautiful 2017!

In this post, my intention is to share with you some of the holiday reading and viewing I’ve been doing over the past several weeks, and to recommend resources you may find valuable aids in a New Year filled with love, light, and new levels of embodied vitality.

Two weeks ago, as I began this series on self-care for MIND, BODY and SPIRIT, I described the mind as an activity, not a thing. With this post, I invite you to bring that same awareness to your perception of your body. In his book, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul (2009), author Deepak Chopra asserts that your physical body is a fiction. Your real body is energy.

Before I share on my recent return to Chopra’s work, I feel compelled to relate that my experience of developing a health “condition” many years ago, in my twenties, led me onto a spiritual path; and at that time, Chopra’s break-out book, Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind Body Medicine (1989), was one of the first places I went to for good news. I describe that significant turning point in my book, Birdlight: Freeing Your Authentic Creativity, when a long-ago diagnosis once viewed as sad and shocking, actually became my catalyst for greater levels of health, personal growth, and conscious creativity.

In Chopra’s teachings, he emphasizes the power of focused awareness in caring for and influencing the body. An endocrinologist by training and practice, Chopra scientifically supports his claim that not only can we improve our health with chosen mental and behavioural practices, but we can even positively influence our genes. (See the interview link below, where he discusses epigenetics.) Moreover, Chopra repeatedly emphasizes a crucial connection between our emotional states and states of bodily health.

As a high-performance coach in personal transformation, I regard SETTING STATE as a crucial factor in improving wellness and success in ALL areas of life. Our ability to generate our own mental and emotional states of being, a highly calibrated feeling-tone in the body – regardless of our present circumstances – is paramount to living at what mystic Hildegard of Bingen called “the green growing edge of our own becoming.” (Here I gratefully credit my coaching mentor, Mary Morrissey, for introducing that metaphor into my life …)

In researching videotaped talks by Chopra, I came across this less-than-high-resolution 2015 interview which nonetheless is quite helpful for its content. The discussion runs for approximately 20 minutes (mysteriously, and perhaps for emphasis, the final 12 minutes are a repetition of the opening). I highly recommend you carve out time for it, especially if the topic of quantum healing and mind body medicine is calling to you right now. This recording may be a gateway to further exploration, especially as you form resolutions for upping your game in life mastery and well-being this year.

For a slightly shorter dose of Chopra, here is a table of contents I created with running times. Take your pick of topics:

  • (0 – 2:00 min.) Chopra discusses his medical background, including the discovery of the “MOLECULES OF EMOTION.” He describes how emotional states influence our biology, noting the neurochemicals associated with feel-good states: oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, opiates, and endorphins. Chopra also notes the chemicals associated with sadness and stress: adrenalin and cortisol; and he makes connections between contractive emotional states and inflammation, as well as immune system damage.
  • (2:02 – 5:00 min.) Chopra explores the reasons why the Chopra Centre has grown, due to 1) developments in science, 2) the power of social media, e.g., the Oprah Winfrey – Deepak Chopra partnership, and 3) growing public awareness that Western medicine has tended to treat the symptoms and not the root causes of illness.
  • (5:00 to 8:10 min.) Chopra lists 6 SIMPLE THINGS you can do to improve your well-being right away. I recommend listening to this interview segment for the details; here is his list, in a nutshell:
  1. Sleep well
  2. Meditate daily
  3. Move (during the day, frequently, and ideally including yoga)
  4. Avoid processed food
  5. Create conditions for healthy emotions
  6. Stay hydrated (Drink plenty of water!)
  •  (8:15 – 9:38 min.) Chopra elaborates on THE SCIENCE BEHIND MEDITATION. Specifically, he discusses the influence upon enzymes, chromosomes and genes. He supports the assertion that meditation actually changes our gene activity and cell biology.
  • (9:40 – 10:50 min.) Chopra unpacks the Self-Directed Transformation Initiative (SDTI), including factors in addition to meditation such as a healthy diet, sleep, yoga, breathing techniques, and massage. I personally love that he explains how massage with certain oils positively affects bacteria which leads in turn to a reduction of inflammation in the body. ALL of the factors in SDTI have the power to positively influence genetic activity.
  • (10:51 – 12:52 min.) Chopra talks about some of the problems associated with present-day healthcare reform, and specifically his opinions on the pitfalls of “insurance going to the wrong things.”
  • (12:52 – 14:30 min.) Chopra focuses on STRESS, which he describes as the number 1 epidemic of our civilization. Number 2, he adds, is addiction. He discusses the biological chaos which ensues when we don’t bring awareness to our own stress levels. “The more you learn about yourself,” Chopra emphasizes, “the more you participate in your own well-being.”
  • (14:30 – 15:49 min.) Chopra reveals WHERE THINGS ARE GOING at the frontier of medical research. In this segment, he notes that only a rare 5% of disease-related gene mutations are “fully penetrant,” meaning you can’t stop them. With 95% of disease-related gene mutations, he adds, their expression is influenced by LIFE STYLE. He speaks specifically about the power of emotional states to influence such diseases as Alzheimer’s and cancer.
  • (17:10 – 19:37 min.) Chopra provides simple ways for decoding Eastern approaches to understanding the body. Specifically, he discusses the doshas and chakras as principles and points of awareness in the body. He argues we need both kinds of science in our journey of wellness: empirical science, which focuses on “what’s out there,” and natural, or experiential science, which focuses on “what’s in here.”
  • (19:38 – 20:31 min.) Finally, Chopra explains the work he is presently involved in. He explains how advances in technology are leading to significant advances in our potential to self-regulate and raise our level of health.

For so many reasons, Chopra’s teaching illuminates the tremendous power each one of us has to influence our own biology with our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. We shape this “earth suit” called the body, indeed the only place we have to live, for better or worse.

I can’t help but find Chopra’s work a glowing affirmation of the importance of the emerging field of life coaching. With specialized support, and a willingness to learn and apply, each of us can accelerate the process of reaching new levels of wellness and, in fact, greater results in ALL areas of life.

Another book I revisited over the holidays is Christiane Northrup, M.D.’s Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing. I love her thoughts in a section called “Self-Care During Menopause.” Northrup writes, “Your body was designed to be healthy for at least a hundred years and probably longer. Menopause is nothing more than a halfway point.” She goes on to emphasize, “Dementia, osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer are not inevitable – no matter what your mother or grandmother experienced.” Next is my personal favorite on her list: “Menopause is the springtime of the second half of your life.” Yes!

Here is Northrup’s key message, which applies to us all:

“The time and energy you are willing to invest in yourself now will pay off in spades for years to come.”

And so I ask you …

What amount of time and energy are you willing to invest in your own self-care and well-being in 2017?

What would you love more of?

What would you love less of?

What would you love?

And finally, what if answering those questions and taking action were among the most important things you ever did?

I look forward to bringing you the third post in this series, on self-care for your SPIRIT, soon …

In the meantime, if you want more help in making those New Year’s resolutions manifest, let me know. Helping you live into your Vision brings fulfillment to us both. I would love to see you thrive.

To Your Beautiful Dream in 2017!

 

 

 

P.S. For those who’ve expressed interest in attending the Vision Workshop originally scheduled in Toronto on January 14, please note that I have decided to reschedule at LucSculpture and Yuri’s Village in the spring. My 2017 public talks and workshops will appear on my newly revised website shortly. With that said, I’ve been working on a video series you won’t want to miss. Watch your inbox this month!

Self-Care for the Holidays Part 1

As I write this holiday message to you, the snow is falling here in the beautiful province of Quebec where I live, and where, for the first time in many years, I am absolutely loving winter. Up until very recently, I would not have predicted such a paradigm shift. Now I embrace it, albeit with a sense of humour. And irony. My husband still shakes his head and laughs to witness this change in me. On my Wish List for Santa? Snow pants.

In this moment, I am setting an intention to connect with the core sense of harmony, peace, and love that is our true nature. That being said, it’s a fact that for many, myself included over the years, the holiday season can so easily take a stressful turn. It can become so rife with to-do lists and obligations that we forget what it’s all about.

And so …

To make calm centeredness, joy, and inspiration WELCOME this holiday season, I am creating three separate blog posts devoted to generating full-spectrum health, wealth, and your highest state of being. In each of these posts, I’ll share suggestions, tips, links to motivational videos, and books that I feel blessed to have either discovered or revisited in 2016. Here is an opportunity to hit the pause button on overwhelm and press REFRESH.

Because I believe self-care is a holiday essential.

I also believe it’s an everyday-of-the-year essential.

And self-care is the last thing from self-ish, since caring for your MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT helps unleash the very BEST in you and me, and allows us to give and receive our true gifts. When you commit to taking care of YOU in powerful, core ways, you bless and prosper not only yourself, but a great many others.

The first in this three-part series is on caring for that part of you which determines so much else … Your MIND.

Taking charge of your own mindset is essential to creating a state of calm confidence and to making joy welcome. Your mind is really an ACTIVITY, not a thing. Regardless of your present circumstances, you can literally set your emotional state by choosing where to focus your thoughts. The act of consciously making that choice, again and again, is the supreme needle-mover in personal development.

In my coaching practice, I am frequently asked this question: Where do I place my attention when I don’t like the facts and feelings of the moment?

There are a number of longer answers to that question, and strategies specifically tailored to meet the needs of each unique individual seeking success.

Here’s the short answer. Gratitude.

Generating a state of gratitude in the early morning, and at a moment’s notice, is a POWERFUL daily practice. When you and I feel grateful, we raise our emotional state to one consistent with feelings of prosperity and the enjoyment of abundance. While coaching others in success and transformation, I often say that gratitude and abundance exist at the same vibrational pitch. We can learn to tune our inner dial to this energetic frequency (like tuning to a radio station) by consciously choosing grateful thoughts and allowing positive feelings to follow.

In singing the praises of a book entitled The Happiness Advantage, one of my amazing clients recently reminded me of the work of Shawn Achor, a Harvard specialist in the field of positive psychology. Achor studies the neuroscience and benefits of happiness. I have enjoyed getting to know his work over the past couple of years, particularly as Achor makes such clear scientific arguments for how important it is for us to A) take charge of our mindset and B) make it positive!

Here is a clip from a longer 2014 talk Achor gave on “Creating Lasting Positive Change.” It’s no surprise that the very first topic he focuses on is gratitude.

Tip: If you already have a daily journal practice, I encourage you to expand it by incorporating a gratitude list. If you don’t keep a journal, you can easily designate a light, simple notebook as your go-to place to list 5 – 10 things each day that you are grateful for. Keep your notebook with you during the day, so you can add to your list any time you wish, and read it over when you realize it’s time to turn up that inner dial again.

When you and I raise our emotional state to one of heartfelt appreciation and a higher awareness of abundance, inspired ideas and solutions often just seem to “drop in”.

We’ve all heard it said that the little things in life matter most. When we REALLY appreciate the little things, learning to delight in them and do them well, they ultimately amount to the big things. Nothing is too small to include in your gratitude list. After all, what is a successful life? It’s a string of beautiful moments. We build our lives not in years, but in moments.

In that spirit, here are links to a couple of seasonal clips – since movies and videos can help us quickly reset our dial to a place of expansiveness, appreciation, and even joy in those times when the to-do list begins to feel like it might “undo” us. Press pause on that thought, and focus on something, well, wonderful.

• 9 minutes of gratitude Frank Capra-style. Who can forget the ending of It’s a Wonderful Life? We all can. So here’s a reminder! And if you’ve never seen this film, I recommend you skip the clip and watch the whole thing this year. If 9 minutes feels too long right now, and you’d like something shorter and just as sweet, skip ahead to the next link …

• The opening scene of Love Actually, one of my favourite ruminations on what’s most important in life. A minute and twelve seconds. Love this.

Tip: Which movies do you love to watch at this time of year? Create your OWN feel-good list of movie beginnings, endings, and in-betweens. Start your day with it if you like. When you find links to clips you absolutely adore and would love to share, post them here in the comments section. After all, it’s the season of giving.

And while you’re at it, search YouTube for uplifting montages on gratitude. Here is a TEDx Talk by veteran nature photographer Louie Schwartzberg. His passion? Connecting with NATURE as a way of generating gratitude for simply being here, and being inseparable from the whole that is our experience of Life.

Those of you who work with me may have seen the film that Schwartzberg shot, entitled Gratitude, and narrated by David Steindl-Rast. I sometimes pass the link along in emails. This embedded video is a little longer, and contains more of Schwartzberg’s story and artistry.

Finally, I can’t resist ending this post with a poem by one of favourite go-to sources of inspiration, Mary Oliver. I discovered this piece, “The Swan,” on Facebook and recently shared it to my Birdlight page – deeply appreciating how social media brings us together, including octogenarians like Oliver who remind us we are ageless in our calling, our Life Force, and the creativity that is our birthright. Somehow, this lady always combines the topics of nature and gratitude in ways that speak to my soul.

The Swan
By Mary Oliver

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

On that note, happy holidays. The next post in the series will follow soon; until then, keep warm.

Love and light to you and yours.

In gratitude,

Is Your Dream Right for You?

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

– Annie Dillard

Our dreams require us to invest our most valuable currency: our time. Unlike money, which flows out and back routinely in our lives, time never returns to us. Once spent, it’s gone.

To spend time well, we must be clear about our purpose.

You and I must ensure that whatever dream we’re building aligns with who we truly feel called to be, and how we authentically feel called to contribute.

At the outset of dream-building, people often ask, “Am I worthy of my dream?” I offer you this instead: “Is my dream worthy of me?” If your dream is right for you, it will be worthy of your time here in this precious and unrepeatable life.

Even a long life is brief; how each one of us invests our minutes, hours, and days is paramount to our fulfillment.

As I enter the final stages of bringing a book into the world, I find myself returning to a core sense of purpose. When things are busy and new challenges arise, I remind myself of all the ways my own dream aligns with my inner Why. When that alignment occurs, I am willing to do what it takes to bring it into form. Do I do it perfectly? No. The point is not perfection; it’s focused action. It’s growth and expansion. It’s contribution. It’s that simple.

But it’s not always easy.

As much as we may love our Vision, we must also learn to be skillful in executing the steps to manifest it. Working with a coach not only helps, but accelerates that process.

My mentor once told me there’s no such thing as managing time. We must manage activities.

We don’t have to prosper in one area of life at the expense of all the others. We can commit to a dream and still be committed to living in harmony. Our health, relationships, time and money freedom, and career are all vital parts of a harmonious whole.

In that spirit, I offer you one of my favorite episodes of Marie Forleo’s Marie TV. Here she unpacks the “big rocks” metaphor beautifully to explain how to plan and schedule effectively. As my coaching clients know, calendarizing is an important key to making dreams into realities. I love helping people make desired changes and see measurable results through focused planning and action.

I also offer you a Business Insider article by psychologist Suzanne Gelb on strategies highly successful achievers use for maximizing efforts without sacrificing what’s most important.

And finally…

From my coaching home base, The Life Mastery Institute, here are five questions that will help you determine whether or not your dream is right for you. Use this list at the beginning of any new venture to ensure you’re on the right path; then, when challenges arrive, you’ll be willing to do what it takes to persist. The answer to each question must be a “Yes” for your dream to pass.

5-Point Test for Your Dream

  1. Do you feel passion for your dream? When you’ve chosen the right dream you will feel emotionally connected to your dream.  Thinking about your dream will give you an expanded sense of aliveness.
  1. Does the dream align with your core values? Your dream must align with your core values in order for it to manifest.  If your dream is in conflict with your values, you will find yourself blocked when it comes to bringing it into form. Part of you will resist.
  1. Does your dream cause you to grow?
  1. Do you need help from a Higher Power? Define that term any way you like. If you know all the steps to bring your dream to fruition, it’s not a big enough dream. Dreams are the Universe’s way of helping us grow and expand ourselves.
  1. Is there good in your dream for others? The Universe is always seeking expansion, and a dream that is aligned with your true self will always include some good for others.

Your mind may play host to a myriad of wishes, but you need to distinguish your deepest desire from whims and passing fancies.

You are endowed with the power to choose the dream that is closest to your heart, and by co-creating with Life itself, you can embark on a path that will manifest that dream.

To Your Highest Life,

robin-blackburn-mcbride

P.S. Want support in discovering and building your dreams?

In between my coaching, writing, and speaking schedule, I carve out a few strategy sessions each month.  If you would like a complimentary strategy session (Value = $250), simply contact me here.

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